All the hubbub about Ello has made me want to revisit all the social networking sites of my past. It's been ages since I've posted anything here which is kind of sad. I miss this long-form method of expression and keeping in touch. I also miss the way communities used to work where they would put you in contact with people on the other side of the globe where you could chat about Murakami and Siouxsie and the Banshees. But our attentions spans are too short for this place now. One sentence blurbs, food pics, and links to "news" has taken over and somehow indulge our narcism and laziness better than this format.

But I confess I had a hard time reading many peoples blogs, the long list of what was done in painstaking chronological detail - but there were also gems, people who could write heart-felt observations and essays that enriched me as I read them. Not every post could reach such heights, but when they did it was so satisfying. I still come back here to see if anyone landed something interesting. I also hope to contribute a piece now and then that tells you a little more about me than some survey about what pop culture icon I might be.

I still crave connection more than anything else and will continue to look where it might be found.

Random thoughts about the Pox

So I have shingles. It’s a reoccurrence of the chickenpox - that childhood disease you only get once. Essentially the virus sits dormant in nerve cells including your spinal chord and brain waiting perhaps decades until something triggers it back into acton. Since it resides in your nerve cells, it traces the paths of your nervous system onto your skin. Thanks to our bilateral symmetry this means it's usually restricted to just one side of the body in a limited area.

I don't know why, but the fact that this disease resides in the nervous system makes it seem all the more creepy to me. Potential for zombiedom?

On the other hand, I can wax somewhat poetic about a malady with “pox” in its name, same with the grip, or consumption. Of course shingles just makes me think of craftsmen bungalows.

In my current stage I am contagious. I can't give anyone shingles but I can give someone chickenpox if they’ve never had it before. Consequently I’ve been instructed to also stay away from people with compromised immune systems, or pregnant women.

I’ve been prescribed some antiviral medication that should limit the severity and duration of my outbreak. Thankfully I have insurance as the retail price of these drugs come in at $230. If I didn’t have insurance I would probably not get this prescription filled, and increase my chance of infecting others.

In my new job we have “paid time off” instead of vacation or sick time. Since I just started I don’t have very much of it, however I can do a lot of work from home with my laptop and cell phone. If I didn’t have that luxury, I would probably continue to go to work and not tell anyone about my condition for fear of having to take tie off without pay - also increasing my chance of infecting others.

These personal realizations make me wonder what would happen in a real pandemic if people acted on their own economic self interest. I think in that scenario we are doomed.

If all goes well I should be healing and no longer contagious in a week. May is looking like a better month.


Rose Petals

This morning on my walk with the dogs, I came across a narrow stretch of lawn with a small scattering of rose petals. These rose petals though had writing on them. I thought at once at the romantic nature of the gesture, foregoing ordinary paper in place of a far more fragrant and symbolic stationary. Was this once one long note, penned across a single rose? Could there be a more fanciful binding than a rosehip on a long stem? Or were they perhaps pulled apart as potpourri? A collection of romantic notions, randomly mixed with the soft scents?

But then these notes, were not gathered and preserved, but seemingly cast off, which made me wonder about the other side of the equation, the recipient of such romantic expression. Perhaps they were only lost, a rose being so transient in-itself - but I couldn’t help but think they were discarded, and thus an expression of rejection of the writings contained upon them.

Perhaps it was the arrogance, of taking the symbolic gesture of roses and making them so literal. Rejecting the subtlety, the nuance, and ambiguity that such a symbol affords making the message far too direct, and forcing an equally direct response, in this case, an opposition, a rejection. Discarding the words that ultimately came to disfigure the natural beauty of the rose., they were cast off and scattered on a narrow strip of lawn next to the roadside.

The soft flesh of rose petal still carrying the stinging essence of thorn.


RIP Paula Brown

Just found out one of my old High School friends, Paula, passed away last week. I guess you don't update your Facebook or MySpace when your dead.

Some of you here knew her as well. You can read her obit here.

I'm kind of dumbfounded at the moment. We more recently traded stories about bands we were liking and concerts we were going to see. I fully expected to see her again at some Knitters or X show.

I feel my own mortality a bit more today and feel a greater appreciation for the life I have.

It started with the Ovaltine

It started with the Ovaltine. Or at least that’s when I first noticed it. For all I know it could have started with that mysterious shaking in Orange County. What exactly are the repercussions when realities collide? Perhaps these were the shockwaves of all the little nuances shifting place to make way for the alternate universe that just came into being. Perhaps that explains the strange déjà vu the following day when the boy on the Blue Line was hawking stolen copies of Medea, the Greek tragedy we had just seen the last weekend. I mean, does Medea really play well in Compton?

But it was the Ovaltine. There among the shelf with all the other coco-powders and supplements, including other brands of Ovaltine, all completely unchanged since our last visit, except for the one we wanted. New packaging? Sure it happens all the time to keep an old product fresh, but this one seemed out of place, completely unlike the others. I let that one slide.

We were stocking up on dental supplies as recent visits to the dentist revealed a need to change some habits and take on new products – fluoride rinses, flossing devices, and a gel toothpaste. The last one was the rub as we walked up and down the toothpaste aisle trying to figure out which was a gel. Suddenly, in my mind it was the 60’s again and Close Up toothpaste was just introduced into the market, making our breath kissably fresh. Oh if only that still existed, at least then we’d find a gel. It seems my memories invoked the Secret because suddenly appearing where it wasn’t there before was Close-up toothpaste, and the only toothpaste to announce on its packaging that it was a gel.

Then things got really weird. We still needed to hit a pet store and book store before going home. We could find both on Bellflower boulevard a mere block apart form each other. Slowly we drove past where the pet store was. Located behind a bank, it was often hard to tell if it was open or not. Only this time – it was hard to tell if it was there or not. A U-turn into the parking lot and the Pet Store – a complete free standing building – was gone – and gone without a trace. There was a drive through for the bank, the parking lot and a wall to the adjacent residential neighborhood. The other buildings in the complex were still there, same Noah’s Bagels. Only the pet store was gone.

This was when we realized that somehow, some way, the universe had shifted ever-so-slightly as to be completely different than the one we occupied before. So I started to wonder, could we ever go back to our other, previous reality? Did it still exist somewhere? Or did the shaking foretell its collapse and destruction. Then again, I wondered, is this universe worse than the other in any qualitative way? Perhaps this reality was a better one? I thought of the dismal work days I had had earlier in the week compared to the more recent ones – the one’s after the shake – in which I seemed more in control of my destiny. If these slight changes altered things for the better, would I really want to go back?

Still this alternate universe continued to unfold. As we drove off to find another pet store we passed a CompUSA sign. I was surprised to see it lit, since the store had long gone out of business. I had been there as they sold off the last bit of computer detritus along with the furnishings. And I also stopped in during last Halloween, when the place had been transformed into a Costume shop. I laughed and pointed out the sign to Lisa, who responded, “Their last day is Saturday.” I was flummoxed. I had already been to their “last day” heck I had been to the “long gone and replaced with something else day.” And yet it was there. In this universe, it lingers for at least one other day.

Our last stop was Barns and Nobel. We perused some travel books (to find some tips for traveling with our dog ,Thurston) and then went downstairs to look for some architecture books. Only, there were no architecture books to be found. The entire ground floor of this shop, while looking identical in every way, was completely turned around. The inventory had completely shifted. Mysteries had replaced self help, self help had replaced fashion, and fashion, art, and architecture were not to be seen. We found craft books where the sex books once were, and sex books where religion once was. Our expectations could no longer be trusted, everything became suspect.

So I continue to wonder what else has changed, and how will I take it. It seems there’s a brand new world out there and I’ll just have to explore it.

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    weird weird

Cubicle Expeditions

My office was relocated recently. Previously I sat in a cube tucked away around the corner from most of my colleagues in the depths of the windowless concrete bunker of the first floor of our building. My new location is in a spacious cube with a window. The only downside is I share the cubicle with one of my colleagues, but now I get natural light and full bars on my cell phone - a coupe in my corporate world. However, the third floor is an odd place.
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  • Current Mood
    amused amused

The Day after Doomsday

So last night, I was home alone sipping some cognac when the Large Hadron Collider was fired up. I was counting down from the night before conducting a little experiment of viewing my everyday life through the lens of the last day of human kind. Mind you, I didn’t really expect the world to wink out of existence as some of the doom-sayers feared, so I didn’t approach the day with reckless abandon as I presume most of us fantasize that we would. The again, I wonder in the terms of Kubla-Ross that even in the event that the ends times were real, there would be many of us going about our normal routines in denial of their demise.

In any event, I found this sort of thought experiment rather compelling, in its particular twist of taking down the entire planet and not just one life. To be sure the facing of our mortality is the stuff of existential thought and mid-life crisis. The Internet is full of “bucket list” inspired memes of what have you done and what have you left to do. But when you take into account the additional transience of human-kind and earth itself, it removes all notions of legacy from the equation. Gone are thoughts of what you’d like to leave your children or future generations, the hidden art works to be discovered and appreciated long after you are gone. Instead it forces immediacy in your thinking. This moment as your last one, absent the ability to be some cause to a future effect.

And yet, I went about my normal life, going to work, attending meetings, planning for future activities. It was absurd for me to be engaged in these activities in light of this experiment, but then again it caused me to look at these mundane and routine activities in a much different light.

One discovery for me, was just how much of this activity takes up as a percentage of my day. For someone who thinks he does a pretty good job living in the moment, I think only 4 out of 24 were spent doing something that didn’t have some element of obligation or deferred gratification. My job of course being the biggest offender, but there were other things: sleep, taking care of the animals, shopping, commuting, calling Verizon to modify billing. I mean, I know every day has some amount of this kind of activity, but 80 percent? If it truly was deferred gratification – just when would I see those results? Perhaps this is economically sound in terms of dollars, but what is the cost in terms of hedons – those mythical units of pleasure, so easy to squander and so hard to bank?

Of course this is the stuff of Buddhist enlightenment, embracing each moment for what it is and taking pleasure in that moment, and so I wonder if this is not also the stuff of enlightened hedonism? For it seems as long as we can link the things we do to the pleasure they will bring us, we can appreciate those things in anticipation of that experience. It’s when I view my job as a means to a paycheck, or an accumulation of wealth, with no clear idea of what I want to do with that wealth (and that means more than paying off debt), then I am disconnected from a great part of my day, and I lose those moments and the ability to take pleasure in them.

Another discovery for me, came from eliminating the notion of legacy. Usual thought experiments of facing mortality seem for me to always include fantasies of creating something to be discovered posthumously. It seems those fantasies are the products of my internal censor afraid to really share myself in the moment – as despite entertaining those fantasies, I still have yet to engage in any "secret" projects to warrant future discovery. Still the lesson for me in this again is to embrace immediacy, to put myself out, to share with my friends, and enjoy their immediate feedback. The longer I wait, the less I do.

The last discovery comes from then end. As silly as my countdown may have been, I found that in the “final” moments I was in a state of blissful exuberance. I can only think of the Toten Tanz of medieval black death cities and understand the sense of celebration. I was posting on boards, chatting on IM, and trading emails simply enjoying life and appreciating the moment. In terms of Kubla-Ross I had come to acceptance of my imaginary end and was fine with it, even celebratory with it.  That is the experience I must learn to capture and turn back into the other 80 percent of my days.

The world didn’t end last night, but someday there will be an end. In the meantime, I am here; I’m alive, ready to take pleasure in all things both mundane and spectacular.

Cheers to another day without end.


Mini-Workplace Artists Date

So, work has been rather all consuming for me lately in all the usual cliché manners - endless meetings, creating documents, sending them out for review revising them, sending them out for review again, revising them back the way they were, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. I confess it gets to be demoralizing sometimes, but earlier this week I managed to sneak in a mini-artist date and explore some of the treasures my company has no idea are in it's possession.

Awhile back our IT department relocated to a new facility, a rather expansive building it features a rather elaborate atrium court and towering entry hall, one wall of which had what should have been, a two-story cascading waterfall fountain, surrounded by aquatic mosaics. Now dry, the mosaics still remained in place.  I never really got the chance to really take a close look at these things, always running off to meetings, so never noticed the real artistry in these decorations. Then one day while cutting across the Atrium court, I was struck by a sense of familiarity seeing this "stele" placed in the center court. "That looks like an Eric Orr fountain," I thought, and in moments my thoughts were confirmed seeing a small bronze dedication plaque. Or rather they were corrected to, "that looks like a neglected Eric Orr fountain." To be sure, there was no water running down the sides forming mesmerizing patterns. Instead, just a dry phallic icon, now more roadblock than destination.

Okay, I confess a bit of aesthetic snobbery here, having had attached myself to the local arts scene through most of the 80's. I walk through our corporate offices I notice the Eric Orr painting over our CEO's office, the Laddy John Dill that dominates our main entrance. I can't help but think they must have been acquired through the Works Gallery who did brisk business at the time selling to corporations like my own. And thinking of them I can't help but think of Ken, a friend and associate there whose friendly Texas drawl grew thicker with explaining his excitement for a certain artist or work. He was the first person I really saw laid to waste by AIDS, the sores, the emaciation, the dementia, such a horrible way to die and so many people were dieing that way. We lost so many friends and feared for the survivors.

Anyway, I returned this week with my camera and started snapping pictures in the hopes I could catch these images before security stopped me, or worse, they were removed or salvaged. And so here is the Eric Orr non-functioning fountain:

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Search for the Spider Pool

Awhile back a friend posted a link (NSFW) to the urban archaeological find known as the Spider Pool. Located somewhere in the Hollywood Hills, it was the site of numerous pin-up photo shoots from the late 40s to the early 60s with it’s chief feature being a large wall mosaic of a spider. What better a setting for these dangerously sexy women?

The place of course has quite a lore, even beyond its possible claim as the origin of the California porn industry – built by an eccentric actor out of old movie sets, site of famed Harold Lloyd pin-up of Tura Santana (Faster Pussy Cat Kill Kill). But for me, the thrill was in the fact that this place, or at least the spider wall portion still existed, a forgotten monument of Hollywood sin.

So having done a bit of research I had a vague notion of the general location of the site. Many of the online source fall sort of revealing it’s exact location to prevent it from becoming over run (by people like me) and cause it’s potential damage or increased security as getting there requires trespass. I packed a messenger bag with printouts of certain blogs and pin-up photos, binoculars, camera, laptop, and a sparkling water (hey this is a Hollywood adventure after all). Collapse )

  • Current Mood

Happy Mid Year!

Happy Mid Year

For some reason it seems this July first is fit for some of the same reflection as is fitting January first. I suppose my job is partly to blame, today our project launched and I'm slowly making the transition back to my old job - or rather the old job transformed as I get to help craft what that will be.

Somewhat related to work is my being back n the Metro and out f my car. To be sure the price of gas makes this a benefit f its own, but honestly reclaiming my time to read, write, watch and listen are what truly make me happy. It's still a pain to get up so early, but by the time I get to my destination, my attitude is s much more positive - and why not, I've already dedicated some time t myself.

So my mid year resolution is to hang onto this positive momentum and build upon the usual habits of self improvement - I owe people mail, there's a stack of unread books, and a collection of notes and observations waiting to be crafted into essays, stories, and projects.

So happy mid year everyone, cheers, and may the rest of the year fulfill its promise.